Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Construction Theme Party Games

Piñata: A construction Themed Piñata stuffed with lollies, Dimples was five so he went first with 5 hits and each child got 5 swings at the piñata.

Dance Freeze: This was the game that Dimples insisted we played, I put some music on and the boys danced away showing us there best dance moves. It was such a happy sight seeing a bunch of kids enjoying them self, they looked so cute wearing construction vests, hats and boots grooving away.
Then Using a Stop Sign, I paused the music & held up the sign, they had to freeze and who ever moved was out, and so the game went until there were 2 left.  They had a few goes and everyone ended up being a winner.

Wrecking Ball Game:  With a beach ball wrapped in contact and hanging above a grassy mat the boys stacked up towers of boxes we had wrapped as bricks and took turns demolishing them.

Pass the Parcel: Most people know this classic Party game. A parcel of news paper with hidden prizes inside each layer. The children pass the parcel until the music stops and if it stops on them they get to open a layer. The prizes were construction themed stickers, balloons, bouncing balls, removable tattoos, notebooks, chocolates and crayons.

Construction Theme Play Station:  In the week leading up to the party Dimples create a diorama kind of backdrop for the play station, it was a construction site with a bowl of construction toy cars, diggers and trucks, then using a bag of coco-pops and rice bubbles it was set up for some pretend play and digging.

Free Play: Of course until all the initial excitement wore off a little the boys explored the garden and found some smurfs, then looked at the Dinosaur hide out , they played in the sand pit together getting to know each other & tinkered around in the Mud Kitchen.  They played together in the tree house and went over the balance stumps and ran around all dressed up in their construction gear.

Jelly Bean Bounce & Pop Game: We blew up a heap of balloons and in some we put jelly beans, then we put them all in the trampoline. The boys enjoyed this game the most, they had to jump and pop the balloons by sitting on them or jumping on them. There were plenty of giggles and they continued until there were no balloons left in the trampoline, a couple of boys asked for more and wanted to do it again.

Digging Work Zone: Of course no Construction Party is complete without digging in the dirt. After a couple of weeks of rain we were lucky to get a sunny day and the have the mud dry out a bit. Dimples had spent the days before digging and burying little skeleton dinosaurs, little treasures and wishing stones for the kids to find. We decorated the area like a real construction site and had a bunch of diggers, dump trucks, excavators and shovels ready. It was a huge hit and the boys kept returning to find more hidden treasures.

Happy 5th Birthday Dimples.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Natural ingredients with Coloured Water in the Mud Kitchen

Our Mud Kitchen is honestly the best and most used kids play thing in our house, no toy compares. If you're considering making a mud kitchen for your children or a preschool, don't feel as if it will be limited to Mud only and messy play, there are so many ways to play in an "Outdoor Kitchen".
Sometimes Dimples asks to go play in the Mud Kitchen but I don't feel like cleaning up muddy clothes so instead of allowing him to get really messy I give him some containers filled with coloured water (tap water and a drop of food colouring) & we go on a hunt for natural cooking ingredients.

This is just as fun as making mud pies but without the mess. Miss Cherub enjoys tinkering in the coloured water just as much as Dimples enjoys making rose tea and Sweet gum nut soup.
In the past we have done some pretty messy Mud play in this Outdoor Kitchen; A Mud Rally Box full of cars and diggers,   Process Painting with Mud & Making a Mud Brick House. If you missed it I have also done a Post on Eight Benefits of Playing in the Mud, however the coloured water was a nice change.

Before making some colourful concoctions, Dimples and I fill up his orange buckets from the Renovated Mud Kitchen with Natural ingredients. Gumnuts, flowers, seeds, twigs, flower buds, and little bits and pieces found in the yard in preparation for his cooking session. Then he creates some beautiful concoctions, mixing together the colours and 'cooking' them, or boiling the water first then adding natural ingredients to stir through.

This type of play is so fresh and calming, Dimples and Miss Cherub could do this for hours. Actually, come to think of it they play happily together for a long time which doesn't occur to this extent in any other play space.  There is something very tranquil about enjoying the sunlight coming through the trees on to the outdoor mud kitchen while the two kiddies play silently together with beautiful flowers and colourful water. They  look so at peace in the world; nothing else matters. 

Dimples & Miss Cherub explore the outdoor environment, search for natural ingredients, experiment with mixing colours, use great imaginations to create and cook up a serve, they role play as they cook and serve me fabulous looking dishes, they are also getting the social advantages of turn taking, sharing, cooperating and playing together. They are also getting hands on experience as they stir, pour, sift, transfer, mix, lift, empty and measure out the water and ingredients.


Learning concepts:
Benefits of being outdoors
Exploring Nature
Mixing Colours
Gross Motor - They're always moving as they lift, pour, mix, transfer, measure, stir etc.
Role Playing real life
Imaginative Play
Social Skills - cooperation, sharing, turn taking, collaborating, working together & helping one another.

Happy Adventures 

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Monday, 17 March 2014

Egg Sounds : A Listening & Critical thinking Game

Listening doesn't come naturally to Dimples. It really is something we need to work on. 
I guess there is so much going on and so many things to do that stopping to listen to boring ol' mum just isn't a priority of his and with a stubborn streak, parenting this strong willed little man can sometimes feel like a challenge. 

By being proactive in the way we speak to Dimples, getting on his level, touching his arm to get his attention and eye contact first and by praising the times he does listen we are aiming to improve this. Another way we have been trying to address it is through listening games.  Childhood 101 has 5 listening games that we have been playing lately and this new one I came up with, Eggy Sounds. 

All you need is a plastic egg, we used an old pavlova shell and some small objects made from different materials, different shapes and sizes and weights. Depending on your childs skill level you can add more or less varying the complexity of the objects used.  

First I laid them all out on a tray so Dimples could see what was there. I then put the tray up high and asked him what sounds he thought they would make. Starting with the obvious, what sound would the bells make?
This part of the game gives a heads up as to what sounds they should be listening for and acts as a memory match, meaning they have to recall what objects were on the tray that could match the sound and rule out the objects they've already guessed correctly.  

I placed an object or group of objects into the egg and asked Dimples what sound is it? He shook it and moved it about listening carefully, some things such as the bell and the pebbles he guessed straight away, then others were a little bit trickier. This is where the critical thinking came into play, I asked him questions to encourage him to think outside the egg!

What type of material does it sound like? does it sound as if there are one or more things inside? is it heavy? 
Then if he couldnt guess it I asked him to listen carefully, shake it slow, then fast, then rotate it, after he did that he was allowed to ask me questions. Is it one thing? Is it plastic? I would then ask him to think about what else was on the tray that might make the same sound as ____ or what else was the same material. 
This encourages problem solving by elimination and critical thinking as well as drawing on scientific concepts to solve the problem, all the while listening carefully. 

Learning concepts:
Listening skills
Memory - visual recall
Critical thinking & problem solving
Questioning & elimination
Scientific concepts - materials, gravity, how things move, weight and sound
Linking auditory and visuals to enhance focus 

Happy Adventures 

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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The Grassy Farm Barn - Enhancing imagination and learning

Are your children fascinated with Animals? Mine are.
Its a great idea to follow a child's lead and provide them with enriching play areas based on their interests. If they're interested in something they pay more attention, enjoy themselves more and this means that they learn more.
Both Dimples & Miss Cherub love animals so I set up this little Pretend play barn yard.
If you missed it, I have this post that goes through WHY Pretend Play is so important in early childhood and the benefits of it.

I still strongly advocate the benefits of pretend play  so following the interests of both Dimples and Miss Cherub I set up this Farm barn play area on a low lying coffee table that they both could access freely and explore easily. I aimed to use materials that resembles a real life farm yard in order to capture their imagination and attention for longer more enjoyable pretend play. I think it worked! They love it.
I added some artificial grass covering the play table to give it a realistic look and feel. This enhances the imaginary play experience and makes the play area more inviting. I then added a pebble patterned mat (it was a small shower mat), a blue foam cut out in the shape of a pond and a fake silk plant to really give the Grassy Farm area a realistic feel.

The farm area is complete with a little plastic barn and of course a variety of plastic farm animals. Both Dimples and Miss Cherub have enjoyed the area and engaged in pretend play together and alone at different levels of play. Dimples, nearly 5 has a vivid imagination and pretends it a real working farm, the dog does the herding, the sheep need to be sheared and the cows eat grass, the rooster crows at the crack of dawn, the tractor maintains the pastor, the pig rolls on the edge of the pond and so on. He labels the animals and is learning the different names based on the animals gender eg. a sow, a boar & a piglet.  In the book shelf next to it I have some farm yard board books for him to expand on.

Where as Miss Cherub (nearly 1) explores the texture of the grass with her finger tips (and sometimes her mouth) and the feel of the foam pond, she is following Dimples through imitation and makes Moo sounds, "roff roff" barking sounds and she gets the horses to trott up and down clicking her tongue and jiggling around as if she is riding a horse. Its so cute to watch her learning through observing the way big brother plays. This also gives me an opportunity to introduce new vocabulary to her by labeling the animals for her.

Learning Concepts:
Pretend Play & Developing imaginary play scenes
Early vocabulary
Turn taking and sharing,
Learning animal names, sounds, diet and place in the farm.
Exploring real life concepts

Other ways to create a play space to enhance imaginative play
A fun Science Lab conducting real experiments
Magical Gnome Garden
Banking & Sorting: using real money & a trip to the bank
Sensory Play: Ice cream dough

Have you used any materials in a play area to immitate real life?

Happy Adventures 

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I love reading your comments 

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Mud Kitchen Outdoor Play Renovation

Summer time in Australia means outside play for us, we are lucky to have a large double yard with some big shady trees to play under. 
Over a year ago we made this Magnificent Mud Kitchen which has been well and truly used, enjoyed and utilized in many ways which adds to the outdoor adventures but it was time to update and add some more elements. There are some new storage pots, a few jugs, his own toaster (our old one with cord cut off) and a spice rack with jars among other things. 

Here it is.....


I love to encourage Dimples to play outside, although he is such a movie/TV lover, i think if I put the TV or a movie on he would sit in front of the screen all day!  So most days the television stays OFF all day, and to avoid the question of  "can i watch a cartoon?" and encourage some active, imaginative and outdoor play we have been renovating (so to speak) Dimples outdoor Play space; We have been working on a music wall, a large sandpit, A PVC Pipe Water Wall   and   a Dino themed play garden in a tyre. 
its a work in progress and it is coming along nicely. 

We have updated and renewed the Mud Kitchen in many ways....
First I laid down some rubber mats under the mud kitchen, then i dug a dry creek bed that goes under a sweet little bridge (just to add the element of imagination into the play setting) I bordered the entire area off and laid down some plastic, then got a heap of bark chip in so now Dimples Outdoor Balance Stumps are embedded in the bark chip. He still has his Pirate tree house there, hop-scotch and many climbing apparatuses.


I added some pots and utensils to the Mud Station and screwed in these cute Orange metal buckets across the front so that Dimples could store his cooking ingredients in them. They make the area more practical and more appealing as everything Dimples needs is within arms length.
He can now tie in some Nature Play by collecting his own seeds, rosemary from the garden, seashells when we are out, gum nuts, dandelions, pebbles and flowers to store in the orange pots and use in his cooking creations.

A favorite meal is still Wombat Stew.
He often cooks meals, chatting away to himself, narrating his own pretend play  "just a table spoon of this, a sprinkle of that, mix it, cook it for 15 minutes, add a handful of this" I love his role playing and listening to his vocabulary develop.
He enjoys pretending to be a Master Chef at the "Dog Club Cafe" and serves up dishes full of things from the garden, add some mud, water and sand to season then he gives it to our 3 dogs.
Get this.... they actually sit and eat it (or sit there and lick the water out but Dimples is convinced he cooks gourmet style).

Another coat on the chalk board renewed its life. Its been a great addition to the mud kitchen, it aids in early literacy by providing a writing surface to practice/pretend writing a menu. I usually write a menu up to read to Dimples of he will ask me to write certain things, like Wombat Stew and watch me.
The soft outdoor rubber Mats underneath mean we don't have grass popping up everywhere any more and if Dimples drops some ingredients they can be scooped right up and reused. They also give it an indoor feel, like its a real kitchen.
I think out of all our outdoor play and DIY projects this has been consistently the most used and enjoyed.

Do you have an Outdoor Kitchen?

What is the most loved ingredient to create with?

Happy Adventures 

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I love reading your comments 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

DIY Dinosaur theme Garden in Recycled Tyre

Do you have an old tire floating around? Tires can be re-purposed for so many things. We have one stuck in the ground to climb all over and another was recently turned into a dinosaur garden. 
We have been expanding our outdoor area, near by we have a cool Water Wall out of PVC Pipe, & of course our Magnificent Mud Kitchen that we are in the process of renovating (stay tuned for that), then we have some Outdoor Balance Stumps. Now for the DIY tire Garden, its cute, little and practical for any size yard and you could really do it in any theme...  Fairies, gnomes, bugs, farm animals to give you a few ideas!

To make this outdoor play space all I did was put the tire into position, spray paint it fluro bright yellow, fill with soil and then Dimples helped create a Dinosaur garden for play and to create a fun feel to his outdoor play space. First we started talking about what we need to do to keep the plants growing, how to look after them and then the discussion lead to herbivores & dinosaurs, their habitat and environment, what they eat/drink and so on which fueled his pretend play. 

We added a couple of soft succulents that are cheap and tolerable to harsh conditions. Then a curved piece of drift wood fit perfectly around the center of the tire, from there on Dimples added stones and shells. The dinosaurs needed a drink or a pool so we planted an old bowl filled it with water and then the finishing touches were of course the dinosaurs. After playing for a while Dimples added a small stick for a bridge and some lucky stones. It makes a cute addition to the outdoor play are and encourages outside physical and imaginative play

Learning Concepts:
Recycle & Reuse
Planting and keeping plants
Physical/Active Play
Connecting with the outdoors
Imaginative & Pretend play
Dinosaur Habitats & environments

Follow on:
DIY baked Dinosaur fossils
Dig for dinosaurs near by
Dinosaur Paint Stomping

You can keep updated with all our Adventures by following Adventures at Home with Mum on Facebook, follow us on Pinterest, or check us out on Instagram.

How do you get the kids to be enthusiastic about Outdoor Play?

I love reading your comments 

Happy Adventures

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Outdoor PVC Pipe Water Wall

In Australia it is extremely hot with sweaty Summer days, we live on the coast so we are lucky that we get an ocean breeze but other parts of Australia aren't so lucky this time of year. Its been that hot lately that Dimples hasn't even wanted to go outdoors to play. I don't blame him! 
But after re-vamping Dimples Play area, Renovating his cubby house & his water wall we are back outside playing under the trees in the shad with some good old water play. 

Here is our new Water wall that is still off the side of his Mud kitchen

The Outdoor Water wall is easy to make if you're a little handy or have a handy man, even if you don't I am sure you can pull it off. All you need is a sheet of ply wood structured up, some PVC pipes, preferably the same width so the water flows easily & directly in the center of the next one, a drill and screws. 
I have spray painted the wood surface blue and I asked Adventures Dad if he could cut the PVC pipes in half length ways on his bench Saw with some different lengths and angles then I sprayed them yellow. 
That is the easy part. Putting it all together takes a little more patience and a great little helper with a bottle of water. 

I used a drill to attache the pipes on to the wall. First I held them in place as Dimples, the willing helper, stood by with a bottle of water to "test" the water wall placing. This is a crucial part.... If you just screw the pipes in any old way it wont flow smoothly so we tested the water flow before screwing them on. 
If they are too close the water splats and splashes out, mean less makes it to the bottom of the water wall, if they are too far away you might miss the mark entirely, also the water speed depends on the angle of your pipe. Dimples enjoyed testing the way the water flowed and helping get it just right.

Then is was time to use it and see which tunnels worked best and how much water made it down to the bottom. Dimples was narrating play and making inferences about which way the water will flow if he poured it down a certain pipe. It was a fun way to cool down and the good thing about doing a PVC water wall is that the pipes are wide enough for marbles and can double as a ball run. 
Hope you like it.
Dimples sure does and Miss Cherub does too. She sits at the bottom waiting for the water to come rolling down, wont be long until she is trying to pour the water as well.

Learning Experiences:
Involvement in the Design & construction of the Water wall
Scientific investigation
Open ended Play
Outdoor Play
Hand eye coordination (lift, Pour, control, move)
Concept of gravity
Peaceful and calming water play that increases focus 
Tactile and sensory learning

You can keep updated with all our Adventures by following Adventures at Home with Mum on Facebook, follow us on Pinterest, or check us out on Instagram.

How do you get the kids to cool down on a Hot Summer Day?

I love reading your comments 

Happy Adventures

Friday, 10 January 2014

Baby Safe yummy Painting With Yogurt

Baby Painting! Of course that will be messy right? But is it safe to expose babies to paint, after all most of it will end up in their mouth, all over their face and in their skin. 
Well even though there are many of alternatives like making your own paints using natural safe ingredients or non-toxic "safe" varieties many parents just won't go there. 
So here is an easy, not so messy way to introduce baby to colours, textures and paint play while they learn some hands on skills needed to self-feed.

I used a children yogurt that was baby safe and mixed it into 3 different containers, using one drop of natural food colouring I mixed a yellow, pink and blue shade of yogurt. I gave the containers to Miss Cherub when she was on her high chair so she could explore them safely on her table. It was a bit of an experiment and i wasn't sure how she would react but she loved it and it was easy to clean up and wash off after.

I left the spoons in the containers so she could get some practice using and handling the spoons. She is at the age now she is interested in self-feeding but needs to further develop her gross motor skills and hand/eye coordination in order to succeed. So she did enjoy some colourful yogurt but the majority of it was paint.

The splatters and drops she tipped out of the container on to her tray were poked out and smeared in every fashion possible. She explored the squishy texture between her fingers and payed close attention to the colours after she mixed them around with her hand.
It was a yummy bright Baby painting expedition.

Miss Cherub enjoyed herself tactfully experimenting with the containers; handling them, tipping and turning them to see the yogurt drop out, putting the spoon in to scoop it out and eating some, while some she flung and splattered on the tray. She used her fingers to scoop some out, and them in different ways she run her fingers through the different colours, some times with her pointer finger, sometimes trying to grab it in a pincer grip but mostly she rushed her palms through it smearing it together. 
Clean up was simple; wash the tray & containers in the sink, wipe the baby clean. done! 

Learning concepts:
First Colours & Colour mixing
Exploring Textures
Sensory Play
Confidence with food
Bilateral coordination
Hand/eye coordination
Self feeding skills
Developing pincer grip and handling containers
Gross Motor Skills

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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

DIY Smell & Shake Discovery Bottles for Babies & Kids

I made these DIY Scented Sensory Bottles when Dimples was younger, they were a definite hit. He still has the Coffee Bean one and it still smells so good. I decided to do a new and improved batch of scented discovery bottles for Miss Cherub.

Dimples was a great helper, he came up with some ideas while he made these for his baby sister.
First we gather our materials, we tried to stick to a theme of a colour. Because these are scented the materials need to be able to hold and soak up the essence and essential oil.
  • Dimples designed a Eucalyptus one using, blue and white pom-poms, some blue knitted wool daisies, some blue pipe cleaners and some metal bells. We added eucalyptus oil in. It smells and sounds great.
  • The Lavender one had some real lavender flowers in it, lavender incense oil dyed rice from our Lavender Zen Rice garden & a little butterfly.
  • The Rocking Rosemary had fresh rosemary from our backyard and some dried herb rosemary from our spice rack. Simple!
  • The Christmas one had Peppermint scented red & green Rice from our Christmas Rice Sensory Tub, some sequins and a plastic candy cane.
  • We still have the plastic Dinosaur in coffee beans &
  • The old Lavender one that had silk purple flowers and lavender rice.  

All you need to make these are some old baby Bottles, stocking, a hot glue gun and your materials.
Take the teat out of your bottle so your left with a hole, put all your materials in the discovery bottle and the essence or essential oil, and hot glue gun a piece of stocking tight over the lid, then hot glue gun a circle over this and screw your lid on tight. Done!

They smell so sweet.
Miss Cherub loves sniffing them, shaking them and transferring them from hand to hand listening to the sounds they make.
Dimples plays I-spy with me and while he had a cold the past week he slept with his eucalyptus one by his pillow.

The Christmas themed one looks so festive at this time of year and has been placed up with the Christmas ornaments.

These are a really handy DIY toy that uses all the sense; smell, shake & listen to them, rattle & bang them around, look and see what you can spot. Considering the coffee bean one still smells years later I think this set will be rotated around frequently with the Christmas one getting packed away with our Christmas decorations until next year.

Learning concepts:
Colour coordination
Learning with the senses;
Defining between different scents
Listening to different sounds
Search & find, I-spy games
Baby grasp, transferring between hands.

Happy Adventures :)

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